Travel Blogger Mom on Spotlight: Catherine Houlahan of Circus Living

December 19, 2014

 A full-time workaholic at Road Warrior Paralegal Services and mother to three hyper kids and a "dominant giant male bouvier des flandres", Catherine's life is a circus of sorts. Such life has spawned her blog Circus Living, a mish-mash of her greatest loves in life: traveling, her family, Paleo diet, and beautifully eerie things. 

As a wanderlust, one of Catherine's proven ways to survive the circus is by traveling and exploring the outskirts of her home in Canada with her family - in their very own trailer, no less. 

*Insert envious groan here*

Read more about how this Filipina juggles family life with traveling and work, and why the "awful moments make the greatest stories to tell" on this week's Travel Blogger Mom on Spotlight.

How did the whole concept of the blog came into fruition?
I started Circus Living a couple of years ago to quell my inner desires (so to speak) to work in the arts/travel/attractions field. I currently handle the marketing for a traffic ticket company and I have been doing so for over 10 years now. Though I value my time at Road Warriors immensely, at some point, I thought to myself it was time to connect with the arts graduate in me and start a blog that would allow me to channel my interest and passion for the arts field :) 
I did take a hiatus to have my third baby Seamus and have started up on the blog again end of summer 2014.

Who constructs the itinerary for the day? Is there an itinerary to begin with, or do you simply go with gut feel?
Our 4 year old daughter Kiarra is a very spirited child. If you google 'spirited child' online, you will know exactly what I mean, lol. Having an itinerary works best for her since we always have to make sure she gets her snacks, meals, and rest times. 
Though she can be spontaneous and loves adventures (she actually thrives the most out of the three when we travel - the busier she is, the better), we always have to make sure she and we get the needed downtime to recuperate or else, hell breaks loose. And with Kiarra, when that happens, there is no turning back - she is a force to be reckoned with.

Do you allow your kid to explore outdoor activities (e.g. hiking, spelunking)?  
Oh yes. Our kids just love to get dirty - I guess most kids do! Our seven year old Ronan loves to explore, Kiarra loves to collect rocks (our pockets are full of her collection), and our one year old Seamus loves to eat dirt, haha! They all love the outdoors and when it's time to come back in, it's usually a big production.

What's that one thing you can't leave home without when packing with kids? 
 We basically take our entire home with us. I jest of course. With three young kids though, packing is always a chore. It takes me at least a day to pack everything! I have a list of must-pack items which I refer to for every trip (it is pretty much the same list all of the time). When we travel, it is usually a road trip of some sort so we take our travel trailer with us. Luckily, I can just pack our needed items right into the trailer. We have yet to take a plane trip together and already I shudder at the thought of packing and stuffing everything into suitcases. 

Name a favorite place you and your family will never tire of visiting.

Disney World, Orlando! We camped there and absolutely loved it! Best campground so far. We loved seeing how the campers decked out their trailers with Christmas lights. It was quite the sight to see. I loved Disney and so did my husband and the kids. I was pregnant at the time when we visited with Seamus so we are hoping to go back so he too can experience it. There's just something about Disney that makes you forget about everything else. It truly is an enchanting place and mind you, I am not one of those avid Disney fans...but when we got there, I too was entranced and caught up with Disney's magic. It makes me all teary-eyed each time I think about our trip because I long to get away from the stresses of life again like we did on that trip. 

How do you fund your travels? What tip can you give moms who plan on long-term traveling, finance-wise? 
 Ah, funding, the big question and usually the big problem, lol. Finding the funding is indeed a challenge. I do not have the answers for that unfortunately. Because I blog, I may get some freebies and some discounts now and then. Other than that, we usually save money by staying in campgrounds although gas money can get quite costly with a trailer. Once I figure out the answers, I will let you know, hehe. 

As a traveling parent, what challenges does having a kid on board travels bear on you as a parent?  
Travelling with children is rough. Without children, it's much easier to sight-see without having to worry much about planning and watching the time. Children get bored and it is up to you as a parent to keep them occupied. Road-tripping with kids too, aiya...washroom breaks every few minutes. I admit it is a challenge but to see them enjoy themselves ultimately, and to be able to spend time together, is always worth all the trouble.

How do you keep up with chores/ tasks while on the road? Do you delegate? Who babysits when you’re busy doing mom duties?
My husband and I always take turns. We work well that way. Randy and I are like two peas in a pod. We work together, we raise the kids together...we see each other day every day...all day...most couples comment that they could never get along if they saw each other all of the time like we do. We have never really had to work at it. With the kids, we just naturally know when to take turns and who is in charge of what. Randy also tries to make a point of trying to find time to spend together as a family...more so than me actually. I am more of a workaholic. He reminds me to take breaks (even during our vacations, I sometimes work!) and tends to step up and try to plan an activity we can all do together.

Let's talk tantrums and all those not-so-fun stuff associated with traveling with kids. How do you deal with those? Do you do games? How ‘bout food? 
What are you talking about? Tantrums are fun! Haha, yah right. Tantrums are the bane of our existence and only our dear daughter Kiarra has them really. The littlest things can throw her right off. Keeping her busy usually helps so having activities to do during our travels (during and in between our sightseeing or travel activities) is useful. So, maybe some colouring, drawing, painting (if it isn't too messy) will keep Kiarra quiet and happy. As for food, we follow the Paleo diet so no sugar for our kids. We used to be the type of parents who would soothe our kids with candies or treats to keep them quiet. That never helped, it always made any situation worse...what a terrible mistake that was. Ever since we have been on this Paleo diet (for a year now), tantrums have decreased significantly.

Is there a point when all the traveling with the kids gets tiring and you question yourself, “Why the heck am I even doing this?” 
 ALL OF THE TIME! I am sure every parent can say that, lol. When travelling with kids, you get the most awful moments when you want to tear your hair out and cry...and then you get the absolutely beautiful moments that make you forget about the awful moments. And then looking at the pictures and videos remember mostly the good times and the bad times, you learn to look back at with a sense of humour, lol. Sometimes the awful moments make the greatest stories to tell.

Has motherhood bettered you as a traveler, or the opposite? 
 I have become more organized that's for sure but I really didn't have a choice. I am not sure if it made me a better traveller. I'd love to be able to enjoy travelling with a bit more spontaneity but maybe when they are older.

What crucial life lesson do you take from all this as a traveling mother? 
 You have to take life one day at a time. You cannot possibly control everything. Life is life, the unexpected happens so expect the same when you travel.

Last shout-out to moms on traveling with kids of all stages, and nay-sayers who don’t believe women be left to travel solo or with the kids. Travel with your kids while you can! They will eventually get to the age when mom and dad aren't so cool to hang out with anymore and you will look back and wish you travelled with them more...or so I have been told by other parents multiple times, haha. In all seriousness, travelling with your family is essential and I do not mean to travel far either. Simply travelling to somewhere in your city is enough to bond with your kids, and cherish your time together. Travelling will teach you and them so much beyond anything a textbook or book can. 
I love the quote “Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey.” (Fitzhugh Mullan) because it sums up travelling with children nicely.

Follow Catherine's adventures!


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